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Thorold Skating Club pivoting through pandemic with virtual classes

'We found with this pandemic we have to be adaptable and flexible in order to stay alive during it,' says the club's president

Because of pandemic restrictions the Thorold Community Arenas are closed, leaving the Thorold Skating Club once again without ice to practice on. In an effort to keep the figure skating club going, they have started to offer Zoom classes.

“We’ve constantly been at the drawing board reevaluating and reassessing what we we’ve done, what we can do, and what decisions we think the government is going to make, and what the arena is going to do,” says the club’s president Jennifer LeBlanc.

“We found with this pandemic we have to be adaptable and flexible in order to stay alive during it.”

Even though the skaters can’t actually skate on the ice together, there are still plenty of things they can do virtually.

“They work on things like flexibility, their core strength, balancing. They can do jumping technique as well in Zoom classes. It’s just something to keep them engaged more than anything, and just to have that connection with their skating peers,” says LeBlanc.

The decision to go virtual came early in the pandemic.

“We wanted to try to keep everyone that we could engaged. We didn’t want to lose any members for financial reasons and we wanted to be able to offer quality programming as best we could. We had to do a lot of creative thinking in order to keep us running.”

Leblanc thinks it’s unfortunate that because of the pandemic a lot of young kids have not yet been able to go on the ice.

“There are so many young ones that have not had the opportunity to participate In a sport such as skating or just to get on the ice and learn how to skate. They are our youngest group, they are an un-vaccinated group, and there’s a lot of hands-on work that’s needed with them. That introduces a whole new risk level to our programming. At this point, if things don’t dramatically change, our 'CANskate' program won’t return until the spring.”

The Thorold Skating Club hasn’t been able to put on their annual ice show for two years now.

Says LeBlanc, “When you ask the community, anyone who has ever skated at the Thorold Skating Club will tell you their best time was being in our ice show. Last year would have been our 70th ice show so it was really hard, we really wanted to do a big production with it. If we do ever get back to an ice show, guaranteed it’s going to be a big one.”

These days the Thorold Skating Club is taking up most of LeBlanc’s time, but she says she doesn't mind.

“Usually Carly (Carly Temple, past president of the club) and I meet every day and discuss. Just to be able to offer skating right now in some form or capacity has always been our priority. We probably spend about 60 hours a week managing the club. We both do it as a labour of love. We are so passionate about our club, our roots and we want to make sure this club is here for another 70 years. That’s why we do it.”

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About the Author: Bernard Lansbergen

Bernard was born and raised in Belgium but moved to Canada in 2012 and has lived in Niagara since 2020. Bernard loves telling people’s stories and wants to get to know those that make Thorold into the great place it is
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